Three of my friends who happened to be pastors got into a discussion, about retirement. Tom, who was 29, briefly and bluntly blurted out his position: “I don’t have to give a single thought to retirement until I’m 65—maybe even 70—because of new laws. Man, my retirement is a long way off.”

Dick, who was 55, said, “Oh, I think about retirement occasionally, but I’ve got lots of time. I have so much to do in First Church—it’s a large congregation. I’ll just keep on going as long as the good Lord lets me.”

Then there was Harry, 64. He commented, “I’ve certainly been doing a great deal of planning in the last six months because I never thought much about retirement before. I have always thought I had nothing to consider. Now I’m changing my mind. I do, of course, want to retire when I am 65; I have put in 39 good years for the Lord Jesus Christ and his church. I want and need a change of pace. Maybe I can find part-time pastoral work.”

Which one of the three is right? The answer is that there is no one right answer. Many things must be considered. As a starter, here are a half-dozen things to consider concerning retirement.

1. Do not wait too long to retire; in other words, stop on time. I know several pastors who waited too long.

Sam, who waited to complete 40 years in one congregation, is now 70, in poor physical condition, and he has difficulty seeing and hearing.

Pete served a congregation whose constitution required that he retire after the age of 70 unless he received a one-year-term call by vote of the congregation. He received the call for several years, but when he lost the last time, he was greatly disappointed.

Paul, who should have retired several years earlier when poor health overtook him, did not want to retire until ...

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